There is a theatrical hit making its way to the home entertainment market place on Aug. 5 that the entrenched “Entertainment Community” should take notice of.
Here are the reasons.
First, there is this very important point related to finished film product that this publication has been making for some time now. A quality film, with Hollywood-like production standards, can now be produced anywhere, by anyone. You don’t have to be in Hollywood … and you don’t have to have studio bacing.
We are seeing it over and over again. Sure, most are genre flicks, but there are more and more comedies and dramas that arrive with finished production values that far exceed their budgets every month on DVD (and Blu-ray).
Consider this, Johannes Gutenberg invented (or, perhaps better stated, refined) the printing press in the mid-15th Century and only those of wealth and power could produce books, pamphlets and the like. Control the means of production and control of the message is assured.
In the world of film, the parallels are similar, but the timeline has been dramatically shortened from hundreds of years to just decades. Movies, documentaries, how-to productions and on and on can be produced by anyone, anywhere and at relatively low costs, which has to make the Hollywood studios ever so nervous.
Second, the film, due out on Aug. 5 as both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack product offerings from Pure Flix Extertainment is director Harold Cronk’s God’s Not Dead. It was absolutely savaged by the “mainstream” media film critics. Most of these “professionals” gave it scathing reviews not because of its production values, but its message.
For the record, that Aug. 5 date yields an ARR of 137 days.
And yet, even with vitriol reserved for the likes of out-of-focused porn and big-budget productions destined for Razzie status, God’s Not Dead pulled in $59.9 million in ticket sales.
An independent film, outside of any studio distribution system, pulling in over $50 million is rare indeed. But, quite frankly, we expect to see more and more of these independently-produced films going forward … the technology is there.
While God’s Not Dead has too many side stories (a structural issue) that give it a padded feel, its message definitely resonated soundly with an audience that normally does not respond all that well to theatrical releases at the local multiplex. Word of mouth sent these “lost souls,” who have fallen outside of Hollywood’s ever-shrinking target audience, with cash in hand to buy tickets.
Cash-paying theatrical patrons not queued up for one of their film productions also makes Hollywood nervous. And, perhaps, curious.
So what is the hubbub with God’s Not Dead?
Josh (Shane Harper — as Austin Welch on TV series Awkward) is a college student confronted with a difficult choice. To pass a required class he must deny his faith.
Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), who is teaching some sort of required philosophy class, demands that each of his students sign a pledge that “God is Dead.” Josh refuses, but instead of being handed a grade of F and sent packing, Radisson challenges him to a series of three 15 to 20 minute debates. The students will decide the outcome.
Of course the fix is in … an experienced college professor against a neophyte student. This show of defiance will serve perfectly as a “teaching” lesson.
The outcome seems certain with Josh serving as the intellectual punching bag through the first two sessions. The final round comes and filmmaker Harold Cronk (War Prayer, Jerusalem Countdown, etc.) delivers the “Rocky moment” when Josh lands the knockout punch by asking one simple question.
The intended audience loved it. They can relate to a story about kids being indoctrinated (bullied) by “echo chamber” college professors … the students have to keep their mouths shut and take the classes.
Of course those drawn to God’s Not Dead could see a bigger message … they see, in ever-growing numbers, students graduating with worthless degrees, buried under mountains of debt and destined to move back home. They see the educational system that they pay for through their tax dollars used as a club to attack religion and family. They don’t like it.
A straw man getting his comeuppance, what’s not to love! Critics hated it. Audiences loved it. And the so-called “Hollywood” studios will take note of it.
Pure Flix Entertainment will savor this moment … and make more films for audiences all but ignored by Hollywood. Do the math, invest $2,000,000, take in $60,000,000 theatrically and you still have all of the ancillary markets to go … what’s not to love about that?
To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report